Japanese label Flau seem to have a magic touch; everything they put out, from the slightest whisper of folk to the heaviest drone of electronic ambience, has a celestial, positively glowing aura about it that has us longing for more. Ranging from the synth pop of Cuushe to the washed-out lo-fi of IKEBANA, sonically the label is incredibly diverse, but what its releases share in common are a playful curiosity, an unmatchable quality and a genre-bending commitment to evoking time and space within their sounds. Floored by their recent output (in particular producer/vocalist cokiyu's twinkling beats, the gorgeous, airy strokes of singer-songwriter Cuushe and the atmospheric imaginings of artist and composer Noah) we invited Yasuhiko Fukuzono – the label founder who also makes music under the alias of aus – to put together a Dummy Mix. Stream his sumptuous offering, packed with rare and brand new material from the label's catalogue, in the player on the left (or download it here), and read our chat below.
Hi Yasuhiko! Where are you right now and what's the view like?
I'm currently at home in Tokyo, writing the answers for your interview at my desk. My desk is a real mess; CDs, papers, garbage, almost like tiny Tokyo.
What kind of mindset was this mix made in (and for)?
I decided to create a mix that focused on tracks by our Japanese artists (excluding remixes). I started the mix without consciously thinking about a concept, the result is an introduction to our delicate and conceptual music that Flau has become known for supporting.
When did you decide to start Flau, and what was the ethos behind it?
Myself and a friend organised a daytime event towards the end of 2006 and I decided I would like to make a compilation that we could give to the audience to take way with them after the show. I approached a variety of artists like Dale Berning, Lori Scacco, Bexar Bexar, Hood and Britta Persson via MySpace to see if they'd be interested. This was the first official compilation for us. At this time my friend cokiyu was looking for the label for release, so I decided to help her out.
I knew of more people creating great music that were also looking for a way of releasing it. Flau was created to give these very talented artists a platform to release and promote their music to a broader audience.
Flau seems like one of the most distinctive, individual labels working right now – how does what you do fit into the wider music scene in Japan?
Mmm, I don't think that we really fit into a Japanese scene at the moment, but I want to! I'm afraid we are still a little too alternative for a mainstream audience and have yet to find our place within the wider Japanese music scene.
Our catalogue has a broad sound aesthetic and consists of a wide range of musical influences like electronic, modern classical, jazz, Japanese pop and some of it is very conceptual, I think.
The music market is not in great shape at the moment but we don't want this to affect our decision to continue releasing experimental material; it's not good for sales but we feel we have carved our own musical path, it's our identity and it's the type of music that we have become known for releasing.
Maybe the Japanese audience and journalists can't see the context of our label's output. We don't mind if people don't grasp our entire catalogue, we just hope that they enjoy some of it. That's good enough for us.
Whose music are you enjoying at the moment, both from Japan and the rest of the world?
Jameszoo, Theo Parrish, Ike Yard, Dustin Wong, Sam Amidon, Ulises Conti, CRYSTAL (Saint Peregrino), Nissennenmondai, Stellar Om Source, Pure X (our very own Twigs & Yarn's Stephen co-produced), Saint Pepsi, Bonobo, Max & Malcolm, Sintaro Sakamoto, Hanno Leichtmann, Eliane Radigue.
As for labels, I'm currently in love with Kaleidoscope (patten's record label), PROFAN (finally I find Mike Ink is amazing, yeah it's too late), Rush Hour, Major Force.
What's coming up in the near future that you can tell us about?
We'll release our live showcase FOUNDLAND compilation. There are many good new folk musicians (new style) in Japan right now and I love them. I organise a showcase called FOUNDLAND – past guests include Grouper, James Blackshaw, Sharon Van Etten, MayMay, Masayoshi Fujita and many more. I invited fresh and talented Japanese artists to perform, and we just collected the live recordings and made a compilation. (You can find out more about it here.)
Cuushe's second album in September 23rd, and Noah's debut album will be announced very soon. I hope to release my album under my aus moniker this year.
IKEBANA – Rose
Cokiyu – Gdb
Cuushe – Lost My Way (live)
aus – Idee Talk (Pola Remix)
Madegg – Compound
Masayoshi Fujita – Story of Waterfall I. & II.
Radicalfashion – Happy End
Geskia! – 3days Trial (Lukid remix)
aus – New Age*
IKEBANA – Alone (Sakaimasayuki & Sigh Society remix)
Radiosonde – Cumulonibus
PoPoyans – Shukujitsu
Madegg – How Far Can This Boat Go Out to Sea in Miles?
aus feat. Cokiyu – Made-Up
Cuushe – Summer Night Sketch (Botany remix)
Cokiyu – Vapor Doll (with 34423)
El Fog – Deep Sea and Stars
IKEBANA – Ends (Matthewdavid remix)
Noah – Weak
NEON CLOUD – ○ (instrumental)
El Fog – El Cloud
Geskia! – Sunset Line Texture
Kumisolo – I Know What Boys Like (moOog yamamOTO Remix)
Kanazu Tomoyuki – Riverside Day